How to Establish a Toothbrushing Routine with Your Kids
As much as our children try to resist it, the slow days of summer will soon be replaced by the jam-packed mornings of the school year (sorry for bringing it up). And, while there’s no right way to prepare your kids for the transition, easing them into a routine in the weeks leading up to the school year can help to reduce the shock of a sudden change. With that in mind, if you are planning to create a back-to-school routine for your kids this year, don’t forget to add oral hygiene to the equation. We know from experience just how hard it can be to get your kids on the toothbrushing wagon, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help make it a habit that sticks!
Lead By Example: You know the saying, “monkey see, monkey do”? Well, that’s basically how our young children learn. They see mom put her high heels on before leaving the house, they want to put on mom’s high heels too. Or they see dad shaving his face, they want to shave their face too. While you may not want your children to mimic everything you do (especially shaving), it can come in handy when establishing a new routine. So, if you want your kids to brush their teeth in the morning and evening, you have to practice what you preach — and make sure they’re around to watch!
Get Them Involved: Kids are more likely to engage in a new task when they’re included in the process. This rings true for cooking, cleaning up, and you guessed it, toothbrushing too! Take them on a special trip to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste to establish a sense of ownership over the process. If your kid is particularly hard to please, let them pick out a toothbrushing buddy (stuffed animal or figurine) to help. There’s no rulebook here. Let your kid show you what gets them excited to brush their teeth and go for it!
Make it Easy: Just like with adult habits, the best way to make a new habit stick with your kids is to make it as easy as possible. Keep their stepping stool, toothbrush, and toothpaste out so they can practice brushing their teeth themselves (age permitting). If your little ones are struggling to figure it out, offer to help or do it for them. The key is to make the process as easy (and stress-free) as possible so that they don’t create negative associations with the process.
Make it Fun: Even though you may think brushing your teeth is a bore, you don’t want your kids picking up on that, so make it as fun as possible. Grab their favorite stuffed animal or doll and play a fun game of dentist. Explain why it’s so important for their friend the Tiger to brush his teeth and then show them how to do it. You can even come up with a 2-minute toothbrush song to make the process more fun while also ensuring your kiddos are brushing long enough.
Be Consistent: Whether adult or kid-sized, the key to making a habit stick is consistency. You can make it as fun and easy as possible, but if you don’t remain consistent, your kids will struggle to stick to it. As an adult, it’s on you to commit to doing it every day, no matter what. But we have a little cheat to help you on those particularly long days when wrestling with your kid to brush their teeth is the last thing you want to do. Do it for half as long. It may not be ideal, but something is better than nothing, and a quick toothbrush still reinforces the routine. So, on tough days, skip the song and tuck them into bed a minute earlier — we won’t tell the dentist if you don’t.
Depending on where you live, the school year could be a long way off, but it never hurts to be prepared. So, keep these tips in mind once you’re ready to implement a back-to-school routine — and remember, they work beyond the bathroom too!